Black Aces Showband
Photo Gallery -
Band Lineups -
- Audio samples -
Where Are They Now?
As many early showbands did,
the Black Aces started out in Kilkenny as a skiffle group around
1958 at a parochial concert in St. Patrick's Hall. Sean Holland was
a part of that original line-up playing washboard. A few months
later, they appeared again in the hall, but had added a few new
members and the line-up included John Cantwell
(drums), Ollie Kearney (vocals/guitar), Sean Holland (trumpet), Jim O'Dwyer (bass) and Liam Drennan (sax).
When the group made the move
to become a showband, they added Arthur Connick (trombone) and Val
Reynolds (guitar). Eventually the band would also feature Pat
Hanrahan (vocals) and Jimmy Lennon (guitar).
The first adverts we can find
for the showband line-up were in late 1959. At the time, the band
was still being booked as a "relief band"
to major dance bands, as well as beginning to make a name for
themselves on the local scene around Kilkenny.
A front page article in the
Kilkenny People newspaper on April 16th, 1960 announced the band
had quit their day jobs and were turning professional. The line-up
at the time included: Liam Drennan (leader and sax), Sean Holland
(trumpet), Val Reynolds (guitar), Ollie Kearney (guitar), Jim Lennon
(guitar), Arthur Connick (trombone), Jim Dwyer (bass), John Joe
Cantwell (drums), and Paddy Hanrahan (sax). At this time, the band
was being managed by Patsy Murray.
In the meantime, the band went
from strength to strength, growing in reputation and traveling
further afield. In April, 1962, the band left on a one month tour of
the USA (mostly the New York area) and they had several changes to
the band including Paul Fennelly now as manager and the addition of
Tom Dullard on Guitar and Paddy "Sonny" Cullen on bass. At some
point earlier Jimmy Lennon left the band and went to live in England
where he would eventually carve out a place for himself singing in
the Fuller Ballroom in London. Val Reynolds had also left the band
In 1963 the band was involved in
one of the most famous events of the Irish entertainment scene when
on June 6th, they were booked to play the Diamond Ballroom in
Kiltimagh in support of superstar Jim Reeves, who was undertaking a
concert tour of the west of Ireland. As the band got ready to back
Jim, they were shocked when the country and western superstar left
the hall and travelled to his next gig in Sligo's Las Vegas
Ballroom, leaving the Black Aces and 1,600 dancers pondering what
had happened. Legend has it that Jim objected to the horribly tuned
piano in the ballroom and others think he wasn't happy doing two
gigs in one night. One way or another, he didn't play in Kiltimagh
with the Black Aces.
By mid to late 1963, things were
really heating up for the band. They undertook their 8th tour of the
English ballroom scene and were featured on several (R)TE radio
shows. In September, both lead singers, Paddy and Ollie got married.
In mid 1964, it was reported that the band had cut a record and
although an article and photo appeared in the local paper, the disc
never materialised. The report said the two recorded songs were,
White Sports Coat and Only You, which both featured Paddy
The reason the recordings never
saw the light of day was probably that in October, 1964, Paddy
defected from the band and joined the Nomads Showband. We think this
may have been the time at which Jimmy Lennon returned from England
to rejoin the band as lead singer. Although much heralded in the
local press and band handouts, it appears this move did not last
long with Jimmy returning once again to England by the time 1965
In July 1965, the wedding was
announced of trumpet player Sean Holland to manager Paul Fennelly's
daughter, Mary. Also in 1965, the band finally did release its first
single, Serenade of the Bells, sung by bass player Paddy
Cullen who appeared to have adopted the stage name, Sonny.
In 1967, they released "Just Tell
Her Jim Said Hello" which was sung by Ollie Kearney.
The band's end is a little hard to
trace as in mid 1969 they added a new lead singer, Andy Murray who
released a single, "Happy The Heart That I Own" in January,
1970, but by the middle of 1971 the band was gone off the road.
Since the late 1990's, there have
been numerous reunions with various members of the band's past
line-ups taking part including Sonny Cullen, Ollie Kearney, Liam
Drennan and Jimmy Lennon.
More to come.....
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